Keith Modder, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Virtusa addressing the IT professors during a industrial visit at Virtusa World Advance Technology Centre, Sri Lanka.

SLASSCOM (Sri Lanka Association of Software and Service Companies) organized a successful industry visit for staff members attached to IT faculties from State and Private Universities. This is part of the SLASSCOM directlink Initiative to provide a platform for collaboration between the IT industry and the academia. A sound dialog and strong relationship between the academia and industry is essential to ensure that the IT/ BPO industry stays relevant and competitive in the global market.

The IT faculty members visited some of the leading IT companies in Sri Lanka, namely Millennium Information Technologies (a member of the London Stock Exchange Group), Virtusa and eCollege (Pearson Lanka). Many IT faculty members from University of Moratuwa- Engineering, University of Moratuwa Faculty of IT, University of Peradeniya, University of Rajarata, University of Ruhuna, University of Sabaragamuwa, University of Sri Jayawardenapura, University of Colombo School of Computing and Open University were participants on this tour.

This was a collaborative effort between the industry and academic institutions as both are interdependent in providing knowledge. The main objective of this tour was to provide faculty members the opportunity to meet IT industry professionals and engage in a knowledge sharing session where the industry was able to educate faculty members of the industry expectations and requirements in terms of technical skills needed by new recruits, provide feedback on the content covered in the IT syllabuses and other core skills needed in the real world. In addition, the need for improvement in soft skills such as English language skills, communication skills, were also highlighted by industry professionals. “

All SLASSCOM’s capacity building initiatives are geared towards driving Sri Lanka to reach our national goal of becoming the #1 industry to lead Sri Lanka to the Knowledge economy while achieving the target of US$1 billion in revenue and employment to over 100,000 by 2015. “There is a significant demand for talent who meet or exceed international benchmarks” stated Jit Seneviratne, SLASSCOM Board member and Director of MillenniumIT, addressing the participating faculty members. “We at Virtusa need IT graduates, that not only have the right technical skills but also have the right attitude towards a continuous learning environment and this is where the University environment plays a vital role” Said Madu Ratnayake, Vice President of SLASSCOM and VP & General Manager of Virtusa – Sri Lanka addressing the participating members.

“We need more industry visits for both students and lecturers, research and development collaboration, competitions, internships and knowledge sharing workshops to be facilitated by the industry”, stated one participating faculty member. Another senior lecturer commented that ‘it was a valuable industry visit as we were able to capture more knowledge about industry requirements and were able to have enough opportunity to interact with industry professionals”. “This visit benefit me in building new contacts within the industry which can be utilized when promoting apprenticeships for our students”, commented another participating senior lecturer.